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Iron Side Cafe in Upper Eastside Finally Open for Dinner, Extends Bar Area

Open less than a year in a hidden neighborhood west of Biscayne Boulevard and south of 79th Street, Iron Side Cafe is a cool, hidden oasis that offers clients a healthy assortment of organic meal choices in an area where artists, architects, designers and a ton of creative people seek healthy sustenance.

Chef Nuno Grullon and co-owner Fernando Nascimento have come up with some pretty interesting concepts. Before they opened Iron Side, they ran Metro Organic Bistro.

After they opened this new place a few blocks west, many of their clients followed them.

"We've made our patio/courtyard very casual," says Nascimento. "Our fire lamps keep the mosquitoes away and the surrounding palm trees swaying in the breeze are reminiscent of hidden eateries in remote Caribbean islands. Thousands of people walk around during the art openings but otherwise it's pretty quiet around here, except when the trains rattle by. Several big comfy sofas are a strong draw for clients who just want to hang out and sip glasses of wine."

Limited equipment doesn't stop this restaurant/bar from serving ample, grass-fed organic, juicy 10-oz. hamburgers, topped with grilled red onions, fontina with a side of organic baby arugula ($15). The braised quarter free-range chicken ($18) is smothered with honey butter sauce and comes with celery root puree and watercress. Even the natural, double-cut pork chop ($22), topped with garlic comfit and caramelized apples, is cooked on the small barbecue grill. It's served with potato salad and baby arugula.

Appetizers include spicy tuna tartar ($13), or a crab meat and avocado dish ($13). The five salads on the menu are a vegetarian's delight. Decadent desserts include a chocolate truffle cake ($7).

Iron Side Cafe doesn't have a real kitchen yet but it is open for dinner. Saturdays are barbecue nights. But if it's beverages that you crave, plant your cheeks at their new bar and try coffee, beers and wines all under $7.

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Marguerite Gil